Amateur Radio History
An Overview

Amateur radio history was made - and is still being made - by countless unique individuals throughout the world.

Amateur Radio History

The Stuff Amateur Radio Operators Are Made Of

It takes skill and patient determination to establish contact with another ham radio operator thousands of miles away, sometimes on the other side of the earth!

Acquiring that skill of being able to overcome the often poor propagation conditions, not to mention man-made interference, with "amateur" equipment (often modified military or commercial surplus equipment), has and will continue to motivate a certain type of individual.

What sort of individual tends to make amateur radio history?

The curious. The patient. Someone who likes to learn. The adventurous. The person who likes to go where few people can thread! Those who thrive on taking on new and difficult challenges.

That, dear reader, is what the history making ham radio enthusiast is made of.

Nuclear science is not within most people's grasp. Nor is biotechnology or astrophysics, for that matter.

Fortunately, the technology of radio communications, and digital communications over radio, are certainly well within the grasp of many.

Countless amateur radio operators have proved it over more than a century, and still do!

Why Is Amateur Radio
Still Going Strong?

Why did the Internet fail to make amateur radio disappear?

Because amateur radio has always been as "high-tech" as hams wanted it to be, often way ahead of mass market technology!

How "High-Tech" Is Ham Radio?

Here is a "short" list of examples:

  • 1961 - First of a series of Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio (OSCAR). Yes. We amateur radio operators have our very own satellites - dedicated to amateur radio communications - over which we can communicate with each other!

  • 1960s - With the arrival on the market of less expensive FAX equipment, hams were experimenting with Radio Facsimile communications. But, with the advent of PCs and sound cards in the 80's, radio facsimile over HF and VHF increased dramatically.

  • Late '60s - Hams began using SSTV (Slow Scan Television) analog technology to communicate images between themselves!

Digital Communications

Amateur radio communications in CW mode (continuous wave), using Morse code, is the "granddaddy" of digital communications!

As far back as the 1890's, Morse code was already being used extensively for radio communication, much before it was possible to transmit voice!

Ham radio operators have been using other forms digital communications over the air waves since the end of WWII, more than half a century ago!

What other forms of digital communications?

  • 1946 - Amateur radio digital communication came into being with radio-teletype (RTTY) communication on HF using surplus WWII military equipment.

  • 1983 - AMTOR first enabled hams to do computer-to-computer communications over the air on HF. Other more performing modes soon followed, such as Clover, PACTOR, G-TOR and, most importantly, PSK-31.

  • 1980's - Packet radio came in use when amateur radio operators adapted the X-25 protocol to amateur radio use over the air. The AX-25 protocol was born. Amateur computer to computer (PC-PC) communications on HF and VHF improved considerably with AX-25!

  • 2001-2002 Digital TV communications between amateur radio stations became possible thanks to the work of Barry Sanderson, KB9VAK, who developed the RDFT (redundant digital file transfer) protocol with a help of other DTV enthusiasts! Hams had previously been using SSTV since the late '60s.

Above And Beyond

Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES)

Above and beyond technological feats, ham radio operators continue to - silently and selflessly - make amateur radio history by providing vital emergency communications . . .

  • when nature strikes (floods, hurricanes, forest fires, snow storms, etc),
  • in rescue operations,
  • in humanitarian endeavors,
  • and situations where no other communications are possible!

73 de VE2DPE
Claude Jollet
7, Rue de la Rive, Notre-Dame-des-Prairies, Québec, Canada J6E 1M9

QTH Locator: FN36gb

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